Tag Archives: assessment

Hooking with the Right Book

There are days when I cannot recall one extra moment I had to sit and read a book for pleasure. Then, there are days when I sacrifice all in order to devour a book. The question is not if I have time to read, or if I enjoy reading . . .  The question is . . . Teacher, can you find a book that will hook me like a catfish on stink bait on a hot summer day?

My students have a more difficult time getting settled into a book, especially at the beginning of the year. Imagine my surprise when on the third day of school, one of my most reluctant readers (he was with me last spring as well) is begging for more class time to read his book, Foul Trouble by John Feinstein.

Foul Trouble

As I have observed their reading habits in the last few days, I have noticed a few “new” strategies (ones I suggested last spring) Mr. Reluctant is using during our reading time: he is mouthing words silently; he is using an index finger to keep himself on track, rereading when necessary; he is using annotations for vocabulary and literary terms.

Mr. Reluctant's Status page in his InterActive Notebook where he daily documents where he is in his book.

Mr. Reluctant’s Status page in his InterActive Notebook where he daily documents where he is in his book.

Pardon me for being a bit excited for a junior in high school using skills that any on-level 2nd grader is using, but I have all non-readers in my classes on Day 1 of school.

I teach a reading class for mostly juniors and seniors who still have not yet passed their state assessment for English 1 and/or English 2. In the state of Texas, students must pass this test in order to graduate high school. Most of my students have lost the joy of reading for pleasure in and/or around 3rd grade when the state assessment begins. Why? Because we as teachers kill that joy.

My job is to reignite that love of reading because, of course, all state assessments ARE reading tests. Therefore, the class philosophy is to improve reading skills by improving the quantity of reading, which leads to the improvement of vocabulary, which leads to the improvement of writing.


Day 2 of school: I have the students create a list of things they are interested in. These interests can be anything as general as the topic of basketball to as specific as their favorite NBA team and/or player. Any information I can gather from them can help me assist them in finding a book they may be interested in reading.

Mr. Reluctant is an inspiration to me in that we all can find a few minutes to experience that sheer joy of reading for pleasure . . . just for the fun of it!

Mr. Reluctant entranced by his book.

Mr. Reluctant entranced by his book.

How do your students find books of interest? Do you cull out time for your students to read during your school day? Do you read with them? Do take your secondary students to the school library?


Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reading

Beginning with the End in Mind

Reflection is a part of teaching. As the new calendar year begins, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Step 5: Perfect Instructional Practices and Assessment Skills

How does a teacher assess mastery of skills? When does the student receive feedback on his performance? How is what we are doing today relevant to me?

These are the three questions that project what activities I choose to assign on any given school day. The objectives need to be determined in order to create assessment. Assessment needs to be created before the assignment, lesson or mini-lesson is introduced. Why?

Assessment should drive the curriculum. The teacher should know from the beginning of a unit what objectives she wants her students to master. One can only prepare for this instruction if the assessment is created before the instruction is given. Instruction is more meaningful and relevant to the students if it is delivered with a destination and/or goal to be reached.

Instruction and activities lose their meaning and relevance if the student is simply completing an assignment for a grade. Purpose drives assessment. Purposeful instruction promotes and maintains motivation.

“Why are we doing this, Miss?” and “How is this going to help me in my ‘real’ life?” are questions we can avoid as teachers if we are prepared to guide our students with better instructional practices.

How can we instill the significance of sharing this better practice with other teachers on our hallway, in our department, or on our campus? How can we better mentor our new and/or young teachers in this better instructional practice?

Assessment of Self Study

1 Comment

Filed under Master Teaching